All I ever wanted to do was write, and between 1984 and 1999 I realized that dream in a big way, first as a staffer at Rolling Stone magazine in New York City and later writing Five Against One, a 1998 biography on Pearl Jam.
Those experiences were mostly exhilarating, but my last few years in New York were traumatic enough to leave some scars. By the time I finished Five Against One, I had managed to convince myself that I neither wanted nor deserved to write about music anymore.
In 1999, thoroughly disillusioned and feeling like my life’s purpose had rejected me, I walked away from all of it, moving back home to Louisiana to hide out with family and lick my wounds.
I’ve been “regrouping” for 17 years. I parlayed an interest in glassblowing into an art glass business and it thrived, until the financial markets crashed in 2007 and my clients no longer had the disposable income to buy my work. I took a day job as a real estate leasing agent to make ends meet, and realized before a year was out that I possessed neither the patience nor the ass-kissing skills required for a successful sales career. In August 2014 I was offered a gig at a local scientific glass company, and it was a good fit. I’m still there.
While all the job-shuffling was going on, there were other complications. My romantic life took a nosedive as soon as I stepped onto Louisiana soil, because complicated, artistic bad boys are in very short supply here in the land of hey-darlin’-let’s-go-muddin’. There’ve been long bouts with depression. Around 2005 I had some dental work done and got hooked on opiates in the process, a vicious monkey it would take several years and a solid program of recovery to shake off my back. (On July 15, 2016, I celebrated nine years clean.) My finances are a snarled and unruly mess, mostly due to my lifelong ineptitude when it comes to managing my money but also because one fine day some years back, I decided to check out one of the local riverboat casinos, promptly won $1500 on a slot machine, and developed a raging gambling addiction on the spot. These days I know enough to stay away from the one-armed bandits, but my brief stint as a degenerate gambler did some serious damage to my, uh, portfolio.
Basically? I’m a mess. I’ve built a new life for myself here. I have solid, loving support from my family and an amazing network of true-blue friends. But I’ve been struggling for quite some time with the realization that it’s just not enough. Somewhere along the way, I lost my sense of purpose, the passion that made me want to get up in the morning and that made life seem like more than just an endless stretch of boredom and toil.
Back in 2010, my flameworker friend Lydia asked me if she could do my astrological chart as part of a research project she was working on. Lydia didn’t know much about my former life as a journalist, and when she wrote back to me with her findings, I was not a little blown away. She said that because Jupiter fell in my third house, the expressions of writing and art were a great source of self confidence for me. “Since Chiron is in this house as well,” she went on to say, “it tells me that while writing is your strongest talent, it’s also the place where you may have suffered a terrible wound.”
A few weeks ago, I thought about Lydia’s reading and had something of an epiphany. I’ve squandered 17 years here waiting to feel unstuck — professionally, emotionally, romantically, spiritually. No matter what I’ve done or how well I’ve done it since I moved back to Louisiana, it’s always felt as though something vital was missing.
I believe I know now exactly when it was that I took the wrong turn. I believe that the one pursuit I’ve stubbornly avoided since 1999 is probably the one thing I should have been doing all along to help me make sense of this whole mess. I believe I’ve maneuvered myself into a stagnant and smothering life-corner that I will only escape if I write myself out of it.
So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to write. And this is where I’m going to do it. It’s time.